The Philippines Government recognises Intellectual property as indespensible to the development of domestic and creative activity, facilitating transfer of technology, attracting foreign investments, and ensuring market access for our products. Hence, the government resolves to protect and secure the exclusive rights of scientists, inventors, artists and other gifted citizens to their intellectual property and creations, particularly when beneficial to the people. The Philippine Intellectual Property Office or IPO has, in its resolve to accelerate the IP awareness has taken up various new initiatives, with the cooperation of the Government.
From 2003 to date, IPO Philippines has approved the listing of 43,457 marks. Of these, 34.2 percent or 14,873 are domestic marks while 21 percent are from American firms; 7 percent Japanese; 5 percent Swiss, and 4 percent German.
Trademark registrations with the IPO are expected to continue to surge as the agency adopts further measures to shorten the approval process where listings increased 21 percent with 13,263 trademarks approved in 2006 from 10,475 in 2005, with already registration of 9,936 marks. Here trademarks, include four kinds of marks that distinguish goods (trademark) and services (service mark), and even enterprises (trade name) and websites (Internet domain name) from one another.
Earlier the registration process from filing to approval used to take around four years, but IPO Philippines could now bring an application for mark registration through the entire process in as fast as six months. The agency was able to cut down the four-year waiting time to two years in 2005 and 12 to 15 months in 2006.
The Philippine IPO is also striving to increase the number of individual trademark applications through the use of its online filing system. IPO has put up Online Trade mark Filing, in partnership with Equitable-PCIBank, where there will be electronic means of applying for the registration of trademarks, service marks, geographical indications, and other marks of ownership. And since its introduction till middle of 2006, the site has gathered more than 800 applications. The site has helped increase trademark filings at the bureau by 14 percent in 2006, significantly higher than the average 3-percent growth in previous years. Local businesses accounted for 55 percent of the total trademark applications last year.
The Intellectual Property Office also recently called for modernization of patent laws through passage of a bill for cheaper medicines. The bill sought to amend some provisions of the Intellectual Property Code that pertain to non-patentable inventions; limitation of patent rights; use of invention by government; and limitations on rights conferred to trademark owners in cases of importation of medicines.
By clarifying particular patent provisions in the IP Code, the bill balances the health interest of the Philipinos on one hand and the rights of patent owners on the other hand. These proposed amendments modernize the 60-year-old patent system to make the law more responsive to the healthcare needs of the people in the 21st century.
A provision of the proposed law would provide access to medicines from abroad that are priced lower than their counterparts in the Philippines, which is consistent with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) administered by the World Trade Organization and to which Philippines acceded.
The IPO, through its Bureau of Patent or BoP, also runs an awareness campaign for inventors, through which it encourages technological innovations by promoting the patent system to scientists and researchers, and propounding how the use of the system could benefit them in terms of protection and economic returns.
The BoP also plans to have 80 percent of patent examiners complete and pass the Patent Examiners’ Certification Program. This certification program aims to elevate the level of professionalism among patent examiners and agents
The understanding of intellectual property has a social function. As such, the government promotes the spread of knowledge and information for the promotion of national development and all round progress. The above innitiatives undertaken by the IPO and progressive Government policies will help to streamline administrative procedures of registering patents and trademarks to liberalize the registration on the transfer of technology, and to enhance the enforcement of intellectual property rights in the Philippines.